5E We made characters with Tarokka cards - Here are the results
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  1. #1

    We made characters with Tarokka cards - Here are the results

    For a new campaign, Out of the Abyss, we made the characters using a modified Tarot deck (The 3.x Ravenloft Tarokka deck).

    The deck consists of numbers 1-10 in 4 suits - Swords, Coins, Glyphs, and Stars (loosely thematically tied to Fighters, Rogues, Clerics, & Wizards respectively) and Major Arcana which are unique significant things like The Prison, The Hangman, The Hero, etc.

    20 cards, 2-6, were separated to create stats.

    1 card from that pile plus 3 others were drawn and shuffled. Then 3 out of those 4 were chosen at random to represent the character's past, present, & future. I did this before stats and encouraged the player to think about how the cards created the character's story. The past was more background, the future was goals, and the present blended between them. The cards could either represent the character themselves, or something that happened to them (more common with the Major Arcana).

    Then 1 of the 19 remaining cards from the stat deck was chosen and thrown out, that cut the deck and the remaining 18 were drawn into 6 piles of 3, representing Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha.

    Stats were randomized and in order with an average of 12 and weighted against large or small numbers (though we did see more extremes than I think is common given the math).

    Players then reflected on again on the first 3 cards and what they mean now that they know their character's natural aptitudes. They were free to choose their race - The restrictions for this campaign were no underdark races and given the themes of the campaign I encouraged strange races.

    Here are the 4 characters: (players will be coming up with names, deeper back stories and such later as we made them then played - I will post what I remember of their interpretations of the cards and note cards that are not straightforward)

    M -

    Past - 2 Glyphs - The Missionary
    Present - Ace of Swords - The Avenger
    Future - 9 of Stars - The Conjurer - (represents dealing with dark forces/knowledge)

    Str 15(16) Dex 16 Con 14 Int 11(12) Wis 8 Cha 11

    Fighter (Eldritch Knight) - Human (Str/Int) - Magic Initiate Warlock - City Watch

    Character was warned by missionaries, town did not heed warning, overrun by demons, character now out to avenge town/family), Seek magical power to do so

    T -

    Past - 7 Coins - The Thief
    Present - 3 Swords - The Soldier
    Future - Major Arcana - The Hero

    Str 16 Dex 13(14) Con 12 Int 8 Wis 8 Cha 14(16)

    Paladin (Oath of the Crown) - Half-Moon Elf - Light Cantrip - Urchin

    Character was an urchin/beggar, picked up by city watch and taken in by religious org. - Seeks to become great hero

    S -

    Past - Major Arcana - Spirit
    Present - 2 Glyphs - Missionary
    Future - 10 Swords - Master of Swords

    Str 13 Dex 13(14) Con 14(16) Int 8 Wis 16 Cha 10

    Monk (Way of the Long Death) - Air Genasi - Acolyte

    Something about spirits and creating fascination with death - Grew up in monastery - Going to be a master of martial arts through studying death and the spirit

    J -

    Past - 5 Stars - Elementalist (natural energies but not confused with the glyph's druid card)
    Present - 9 Stars - Conjurer (dealing with dark forces)
    Future - 8 Stars - Necromancer (forces of death and undeath)

    Str 10 Dex 13 Con 12 Int 12(13) Wis 11 Cha 15(17)

    Warlock (Undying/Chain Pact) - Tielfing - Sage

    Explored innate talent for magic - instead of developing into a sorcerer tapped into darker forces for power - set on path to manipulate necrotic magic (we still need to create the being they made a pact with and such)

    Final Party:

    Eldritch Knight
    Oath of the Crown Paladin
    Way of the Long Death Monk
    Undying Chain Pact Warlock

    There you have it. I hope it was easy enough to read. It was a great experiment and I think it worked out wonderfully. There was a lot of tension over how the characters were going to turn out and every player felt they had a lot of agency in the ultimate outcome of who they are. They also enjoyed being challenged to put together the different aspects. Everyone made their stats work well.

    They are now happy playing characters they didn't know that they wanted to play before and have a special attachment to them because they only came about because of the randomness. Not for everyone of course but I encourage you to give it a shot.

    Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
    XP spanglemaker gave XP for this post

  2. #2
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    I have always wanted to use cards instead of dice in D&D, just to see how it changes combat.
    Something like: Everyone is dealt a hand of (5ish) cards and then players can pick which cards to use in place of which rolls. With an added twist: You can use one of your cards to boost a different players "roll" in order to draw more cards.

  3. #3
    While I'm not a fan of cards for stats*, it is pretty interesting to have a "background" system going here. I could see using a tarot deck, split into just suits and just trumps, in several games. Sounds especially useful for 13th Age, actually; suits indicate nature and strength of relationship, arcana indicates who it relates to. You could also draw cards for backgrounds. Perhaps draw two suit cards, one for strength and one for nature/significance. So, for example:
    4 of Staves (background gives +4), 3 of Swords (background is military or fighting-related), Emperor (background relates to the Dragon Emperor or the Imperial government in some way) = "I was a standard-bearer in the Imperial Legion"
    whereas if it had been a 3 of (say) Cups, it could instead be "healing or socially-related" and thus "I was a clerk of the Imperial Court." Or something like that.

    *It seems to have worked out kind of okay here, though the EK's stats are pretty much objectively superior to the Warlock's...and the Fighter ASI/feats will stack on top of that...
    Last edited by EzekielRaiden; Sunday, 8th November, 2015 at 11:31 AM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by EzekielRaiden View Post
    While I'm not a fan of cards for stats*, it is pretty interesting to have a "background" system going here. I could see using a tarot deck, split into just suits and just trumps, in several games. Sounds especially useful for 13th Age, actually; suits indicate nature and strength of relationship, arcana indicates who it relates to. You could also draw cards for backgrounds. Perhaps draw two suit cards, one for strength and one for nature/significance. So, for example:
    4 of Staves (background gives +4), 3 of Swords (background is military or fighting-related), Emperor (background relates to the Dragon Emperor or the Imperial government in some way) = "I was a standard-bearer in the Imperial Legion"
    whereas if it had been a 3 of (say) Cups, it could instead be "healing or socially-related" and thus "I was a clerk of the Imperial Court." Or something like that.

    *It seems to have worked out kind of okay here, though the EK's stats are pretty much objectively superior to the Warlock's...and the Fighter ASI/feats will stack on top of that...
    We went with a 20 card deck rather than an 18 card one. If you wanted things to be even closer in power you could do that so that everyone gets the same sum. I think in play the stats are close enough. The high strength and dexterity don't work well together.

    What is most important I think is spotlight time. They can each shine in their own way mechanically and the process ties them to their characters storywise.

    I see the reasons for point buy but if you are going to go with random character generation I don't see any better method. I also think all of those 16s are anomalies. I think a 16+ in this system is rare.

    *edit*

    The sum of the stats works out like this:

    75/71/74/73 with an expected average of 72 and a range of 68-76. Sum wise the Paladin had the worst luck. It is easy to just make an 18 card deck to avoid that if that is what you want. This is still a much better range and weighting than dice.
    Last edited by ad_hoc; Sunday, 8th November, 2015 at 05:39 PM.

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